In the constraining public sector, it is often necessary to find creative avenues for improvement and growth. In the past, we have benefited from the rich avenues of partnerships and pro-bono work, bringing private sector resources and best practices into city government. One of the best, most recent examples of this was a pilot training program focused on project management designed by Blue Isis founder Dawn Mahan in collaboration with MDO leadership.
This pilot made sense to offer. City employees, after all, do run projects and need project management skills. The risk was that such a program had never before been offered in the Philadelphia city government. Would employees participate? To gauge genuine interest, all 15 of the courses were offered on Friday afternoons over a five-month period.
The response was inspiring. Every class, scheduled for a capacity of 20 employees, received requests between 40 and 100; each of the 15 classes filled up in just three days. This presented the biggest problem for the pilot: accommodating the overwhelming number of participants. The Managing Director’s Office booked the largest room in the Municipal Services Building.
Core courses focused on presenting project management fundamentals that could be immediately applied on the job, providing city employees with an interactive training experience usually reserved for private sector conferences. The catalog of courses covered important soft-skills that apply to both line and project management situations such as Giving and Receiving Feedback and Best Practice Principles for Productive Meetings. The course’s basics were grounded in Blue Isis’s own “Start, Do, Deliver” project management methodology, leading to more advanced concepts like Managing Multiple Projects.
Blue Isis Executive Advisors and local authors Jerry Manas and Nick McCormick also donated their time, materials and expertise. Mr. Manas taught two courses based on his books titled Napoleon on Project Management and Managing the Gray Areas while Mr. McCormick coached Ms. Mahan in presenting his seminar based on Lead Well and Prosper. Fanny Korman, CEO of FZK Performance Solutions, generously offered three of her popular courses as well.
“This pilot program was an encouraging and meaningful experiment in project management talent development. The City of Philadelphia’s employees were highly engaged, thirsty for knowledge and craved professional growth. I was impressed to see people waiting outside the room looking for an empty seat, building their own binder of our training materials and arriving early to report that they had applied learned concepts. These and many more examples made it clear that the pilot was a success. Thus, we are in the process of looking for grants so that we can continue to offer this program to the City of Philadelphia and other municipalities.” said Blue Isis Founder Dawn Mahan.
The project management pilot program was an innovative way to create a more efficient government while catering to the needs of city employees. A most gracious thank you goes out to Dawn Mahan, Fanny Korman, Jerry Manas and Nick McCormick for their time, expertise and energy.
For more information on Blue Isis and its Project Management and Talent Development services, visit their website.